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Silence Finally Broken

Despite climate change getting little attention during last year’s Presidential campaign, President Obama finally addressed the issue in a press conference a week after the election.

According to MediaMatters, from August 1st to November 6th, television news coverage outside of MSNBC of climate change totaled 51 minutes. To give further perspective on the miniscule amount of time given to climate change, after the vice presidential debate, 91 minutes of television news coverage, again outside of MSNBC, were allotted to Joe Biden’s smiles and other aspects of body language toward Paul Ryan. A piece of “news” which had the lifespan of no more than a week had almost double the amount of coverage an incredibly important domestic and global issue did.

Given the amount, or lack thereof, of news coverage pertaining to climate change, it comes as no surprise that there was no desire for either of the candidates to discuss the climate and environment over the economy or health care, which had more news coverage. What is covered on the news is based on ratings, so it is reasonable to accept for networks to cater to the desires of the public, i.e. ratings, which were jobs and health insurance.

President Obama initially broke the climate silence during his acceptance speech, but his press conference gave him a chance to expound upon his policy plan. “I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions,” Obama said. “And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.” Further, he discussed global temperature rises, and the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap.

However, President Obama acknowledged the political will which is needed to make the “tough, political choices” necessary to address climate change doesn’t exist at present, given the pressing economic concerns. The implication with this comment is jobs are more important than climate change, thus need to be dealt with first, which is feasible for the short-term, but crippling for the long-term.

It can be expected for President Obama to continue to address climate change, but it appears that like cable and broadcast network news, he will first address the short-term desires of the public: jobs and health care.

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